• Documentary Your Mum and Dad explores the lasting impact of trauma and difficult childhood experiences

  • The film tells director Klaartje Quirijns family story of grief, and psychoanalyst Michael Moskowitz's tale of intergenerational trauma

Filmmaker Klaartje Quirijns spent years recording her friend Dr Michael Moskowitz's therapy sessions, when a diagnosis of breast cancer prompted her to turn the camera on her own family's story too. The result is her new documentary Your Mum and Dad, which explores the lasting impact of grief and difficult childhood experiences, as well as how trauma is passed down through the generations. 

In Czechoslovakia before the upheaval of World War Two, Dr Michael Moskowitz’s Jewish mother left home at 17 without knowing if she would ever see her family again. What followed was a lifetime of trauma and dislocation for both her and her son. 

Allowed into the inner sanctum of the therapy room, Quirijns follows Moskowitz’s work with New York-based psychoanalyst Dr Kirkland Vaughans. Vaughans guides us through the complex workings of the mind, showing how easily we can be “colonised” by the behaviour of our parents. 


Eventually turning the camera on herself and her family’s own unhealed wounds, Quirijns reveals her own family’s devastating trauma before she was born – the sudden loss of an older sister she never knew in a tragic accidental drowning. 

As she speaks to her parents for the first time about their loss, raw conversations are shared, giving insight into healing after tragedy. Your Mum and Dad navigates the consequences of the accident for all involved, even Klaartje’s daughters a generation later.

Using a wealth of home movies and archival images – as well as taped therapy sessions – Your Mum and Dad is at once a very personal and intimate exploration into family trauma and therapy, and a universal, relatable story. 

Further reading

Family estrangement: when parent-child bonds break

10 signs you grew up with emotionally immature parents

Learned helplessness: how past trauma affects our present

The long-term impact of childhood difficulties

Why we feel shame and how to let it go